Checking In on the Natives

The new garden – while large – didn’t some with a great deal in the way of plants, but it wasn’t completely desolate, it just appeared that way when you go from this:

June

To this:

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Despite the downsizing of floral diversity, there are a few plants that we inherited – which I like to call, “the Natives” that have been in flower recently. It’s time I checked in on them.

We start with a surprising stand of Crocosmia “Lucifer”. They are tall, erect plants with sword-like leaves and vivid red flowers. Unfortunately, the stand of crocosmia we have caught me off-guard and they weren’t staked before they all promptly fell over en-masse. They are now growing across the grass. I shall be ready for them next year with plenty of stakes to keep them upright.

Crocosmia Lucifer Growing Horizontally

Next are hydrangea: There are a couple of hydrangea shrubs in the garden but unfortunately, they are all in bad shape with plenty of congested dead wood that needs pruning out. All shrubs need reshaping and they also need rescuing from the grass that’s returning to what used to be old borders. I hope to get on top of the pruning for next year, just as soon as I learn how they’re supposed to be pruned. It may be that I have to do without flowers for a year or two but that’s not a worry.

Hydrangea Flowers

One of the shrubs is white and purple while the other is blue and pink, depending on what flower head you’re looking at.

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Finally, there are two hydrangeas that were buried underneath the old viburnum shrubs in the front border, before I revamped it. I dug those out, potted them up and placed them in the patio pot collection. When I replanted the front border the hydrangeas didn’t go back in, I will find another place for them. They were in a poor state when I dug them out but a bit of TLC and they’ve even managed to flower this year.

Salmon Pink Hydrangea

Finally we have something that caught us by surprise in that front border. For a long while there was a plant which was essentially a bunch of leaves that looked like a clump of large snowdrops. I left them alone as they were small enough not to get in the way when I was revamping the bed and I didn’t want to dig them out when I didn’t know what they were. The dahlias were planted around them and they recovered from the trauma of being half-dug and half-buried by “borrowing” some of the water when I was settling the dahlias in. It was only in the last few weeks that I noticed they had sent up a flower spike and slowly emerging from the flower head are individual blue flowers – Agapanthus?

There would have been a lovely picture of the little plant here, if I had managed to get round to taking it before it flowered, set seed and returned to a little bunch of leaves.

For an agapanthus it is a very small plant and a rather insignificant flower head, but it has survived being over shadowed by viburnum and lavender, recovered after being disturbed from the revamp and replanting of the bed and has even managed to tentatively flower so I say congratulations and lets hope it gets bigger and spreads (I might help it with the propagation part).

18 Comments


  1. I think that the ‘Lucifer’ is just bowing to the new gardener, ready to be trained and staked and put in its place, next year! The plants are ready to be cared for by your most able hands and skills! Looking great!

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    1. Hello Jayne, it might be less to do with reverential bowing and more to do with the fact that I may have run them over with the wheelbarrow multiple times but I prefer the former explanation!

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  2. Crocosmia, Lucifer – I love it, and have one in this garden too. It behaved in exactly the same way as yours this summer, so it’s going to get it’s very own “treat” for next year, a retainer to keep it upstanding. The hydrangeas look very happy now. I have one (sorry no name or pic, but is white with a red blush around the edge of each petal), but even though it’s seven years old now, it does not get bigger, and the has only bloomed the last two years – with one flowerhead each year. Oh dear! My climbing hydrangea does very much better. Your natives were a nice surprise altogether, Sunil!

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    1. Hello Mrs Mac, I’m planning an increase in the Crocosmia since the other half likes them and the hydrangeas need rescuing, but that will have to be next year now. The climbing hydrangea that I put in the side border is not looking so well. It hasn’t done anything since it was put in the ground. I’ve heard that it takes time (i.e. a couple of years) for it to get settled, find its feet and start growing so I’m hoping it’s only transplanting pains as opposed to anything else. I can see lots of tight green buds on it that will hopefully burst open next year.

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  3. They are quite nice ‘natives’ Sunil.
    Some agapanthus are not very big. Mine make flowerheads about the size of a large grapefruit. Many are a fair bit bigger than that. Perhaps yours is a smaller variety.

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    1. Hello Alain, perhaps so. Time will tell. I did think they were far too small to flower given the size of “normal” agapanthus. Of course, they might be something completely different instead. I didn’t pay it much attention this year so I will have to catch it again next year and have a closer look.

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    1. Hello Jason, I hope so too. If it doesn’t, then I do have several seed trays with agapanthus seeds (obtained from elsewhere) that I am waiting to germinate and grow. They do take several years to develop to flowering size but a large clump or row of them stuffed into a tight-looking spot does look dramatic.

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  4. I’ve only inherited plants once and it was a weed only an atom bomb could eliminate. It sounds like you have some beauties to work with. Maybe you could plant something stiff and upright near the crocosmia to use as a support when it flops a bit.

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    1. Hello Tammy, for every nice native we have half a dozen thugs and invasive plants to deal with. There’s a “mature” bramble that is taking over an entire neglect shrub border towards the back – that’s not going to be fun to deal with. For supporting the crocosmia, it’s going to be bamboo and string to start with, but perhaps a stout woody or open shrub for them to grow through might be an idea.

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    1. Hello Alistair, hopefully I shan’t be so disorganised and miss it next year, when it should be feeling a little better after the treatment it got this year and now that it’s roots have re-grown and discovered the re-invigorated soil. A layer of mulch over the bed for the winter should also help it along.

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  5. I burst out laughing when I saw that Crocosmia. I have never seen such a mass fall over! The Hydrangea should respond well to renovation. A spot of extreme pruning will be fun!

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    1. Hello Sarah, the Crocosmia were flowering along the ground, it was annoying having to lift them up to mow the grass underneath. The hydrangea pruning might be a little delayed, but if they’re OK being neglected for this long then another year or two won’t make much difference.

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  6. Sunil, we pruned our hydrangeas back in February every year and had loads of blooms. Of course it depends on if they bloom on old or new wood. However, even the lacecaps enjoyed their winter haircuts and bloomed happily later in the summer. Your garden is such a voyage of discovery!

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    1. Hello Lynn, thanks for this advice! Now I just need to get organised and try and do the jobs at the time they need doing. It might be a year or two yet until I get with the program but in the mean time, the hydrangea shrubs are still flowering away, although they look a little faded in colour so I think they may be starting to go over.

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  7. I prefer Crocosmia Lucifer to the orange variety I have in my garden. Or maybe I should say had, as I’ve dug most of them up, they were spreading like weeds! Even laying down yours look lovely 🙂 . The Lacecap Hydrangea is really pretty too, I’ve pruned them before and they seem to respond well.

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    1. Hello Paula, I’ve heard that Crocosmia spread like weeds, which is why they’re somewhat frowned upon, but I’m not one to follow convention. Just to show how much of a novice I am with hydrangeas, I only recently realised that there were “mop head” and “lace cap” types, so at least now I know what section of advice to look for when pruning!

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